Week three only features two and half “marquee” games, but features a slew of good match-ups…
Alabama at Arkansas – One week ago this looked to be a top 10 match-up with a visit from ESPN’s Gameday crew. Then Arkansas blows a tire against Louisiana-Monroe, possibly loses their star quarterback and gets expelled from the Associated Press Top 25. Tyler Wilson isn’t the Hogs only concern, though. Their defense flat out stinks and showed it by giving up 550 yards and 103 plays to the Sun Belt Conference Warhawks. Alabama handled their week two Sun Belt foe, Western Kentucky, rather easily, but it wasn’t without a cost. Junior running back Jalston Fowler suffered a knee injury and is likely lost for the rest of the year. The offensive line was also exposed while allowing six sacks of AJ McCarron. As of right now, the Tide is around a 14-point favorite over the Razorbacks.
Florida at Tennessee – It’s been a while since this game really meant anything, but this year both teams are ranked: Florida 18th and Tennessee 23rd. Tennessee fans are excited after smashing two teams en route to a 2-0 record, and Florida’s pumped after leaving College Station with a win, but this game could actually be fool’s gold. It’s possible we’re buying into the hype of two very average teams. UT has looked very good especially offensively, but have they really played anyone? We don’t know how good Texas A&M is yet, but we do know the Gators have struggled with their first two opponents. Either way, it should be a fun game to watch and the loser will make their early exit out of the SEC East race.
Texas at Ole Miss – This game only rates 1/2 “marquee” status.” Reason? Ole Miss isn’t a good team, despite their 2-0 record, but a visit from Texas to the SEC does have a nice ring to it. Ole Miss will get a chance to see how much progress they’ve made this year and Texas looks to maintain their momentum before hitting a stretch of games that includes Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Baylor.
Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn – All of a sudden La-Monroe is a must-win game for Gene Chizik’s gang if they expect to salvage the 2012 season. The Warhawks are a good team, but are they good enough to beat two SEC West team’s in a row? Should we put an asterisk on the “W” because Tyler Wilson was hurt and had to leave the game? Was it the perfect storm for the Warhawks whereby momentum suddenly swung their way and they rode it – all over the Arkansas defense – to a win? Heck, I don’t know. All I know is that they won and Auburn should be very worried about the game this weekend. Some have wondered if the Warhawks may have a letdown this weekend. It’s possible, but the chance to beat Arkansas and Auburn back-to-back doesn’t come along very often and I’ll be they’ll be ready. On the other hand, it’s not like Auburn is totally out-manned. If they can eliminate turnovers and establish some sort of running game, they should be able to cover the spread in this one.
Mississippi State at Troy – Yes, you read that right. The Bulldogs travel to Troy, Ala. to play a football game against a Sun Belt conference team. Folks, this should never happen, but because it has, and because the Dogs are high after finally beating an SEC West team other than Ole Miss, Dan Mullen might want to call Nick Saban this week for some motivational tricks. I believe State is the better team, and on paper should obviously win, but this has upset special written all over it.
Western Kentucky at Kentucky – The Wildcats looked improved after beating Kent State last week. They also don’t need to sleep on the Hilltoppers this week (yes, another Sun Belt team). UK isn’t a very good team – or won’t be record-wise by the end of the year, and should win, but they can’t come out and play a sloppy game against WKU. Willie Taggart’s bunch is well-coached and had a nice game plan against Alabama. Four turnovers and AJ McCarron’s arm erased any hope they had for an upset, though.
Arizona State at Missouri – The Sun Devils have the makings of a pretty good football team. So far, they are 2-0 and last week rang up 45 points on what was supposed to be a good Illinois defense (although the Illini are Big 10 members and that has to count for something). Missouri is coming off an emotional loss to Georgia in their first SEC home game. Can they get out of the dumps for this interconference matchup? We’ll see, I guess.
These aren’t all the match-ups for SEC teams this week, just the more interesting ones. Georgia also plays Florida Atlantic, another Sun Belt member, but that game shouldn’t be close.
Two conference rivalry games. Two interconference match-ups of national significance. Four match-ups with the Sun Belt foes. Week three should be an interesting one for the SEC.